Interview: Brynley Gibson, Game Developer of Chime

Read on to find out.

By Buckley, Posted 31 Jan 2011

NoobFeed was recently granted an exclusive interview with Brynley Gibson, game developer of Zoë Mode's addictive puzzle game Chime (read the full review for the game here). Not only did we get some great insight into the creation of the game, but we were treated to an unexpected announcement of Chime Super Deluxe. NoobFeed is proud to be the source of the first interview exposing details on this new upcoming title. Read on to find out:

NoobFeed: How did the original idea for Chime materialize?

Brynley Gibson: The genesis of the concept came from our Audio Director Ciaran Walsh. He had the idea of a puzzle game where the player would be solving a puzzle in a set space and then within that space and by solving the puzzle you would be manipulating music. From that initial concept the game was prototyped in the Lab which was Zoë Mode’s ideas gestation team. This team headed up by our Creative Director Ste Curran were focused on prototypes made with a fast turn around to prove out various new ideas. Chime was one of the most successful games concepted in the Lab and there was always a strong desire to do something with it. Right from the concept to the full development and through the natural process off refining the design, rounding off the edges and polishing up the gameplay the core of Chime remained true to that original idea.

NF: So you intended to make music a big part of this game from the start?

BG: The music manipulation was in from the start and it was the puzzle game and rule set that changed the most during development. Ciaran’s concept had the concept of individual shape placement playing notes, the idea of the backing track developing as the puzzle neared completion and the idea of each section solved playing a more robust sample of music. That is a summary of what the end user experiences but there is a lot more technical depth and detail. It is this that gives freedom to the musicians who are making tracks for Chime and allows the game to handle any type of music we want to throw at it.

Chime screenshot

NF: Philip Glass is a surprising yet very appropriate inclusion. So, who's the musician at Zoë Mode?

BG: Due to our strong pedigree of music-led titles we have a large audio team and in fact they have their own floor and a rather lovely pair of studios. Each one of our “audio engineers” is a musician and composer in his own right. In fact at Zoë Mode in general there seems to be a huge amount of practicing musicians across all disciplines. This means that there are many influences pulling and pushing when we work on a music title like Chime. When work begun in turning Chime from prototype to releasable title, the net was cast out and various acts became interested in this new musical game being made for charity. Philip was one of the acts who became interested and many of us prayed he would get on board as he is simply awesome. When he did, it gave the game a certain gravitas but also proved we didn’t just need to focus on dance music. His track Brazil is very different but works fantastically in the game.

NF: If you could pick any, what artist or song not currently included in Chime would you most want in the game?

BG: Depending on my mood the answer will vary wildly. For pure mayhem and head banging noise I would love to get some artists from the U.S label “I Heart Comix” such as Toxic Avenger or Hearts Revolution. Their music is often loud, sexy and quite hard but still retains great amounts of emotion and musicality. In a more sensitive frame of mind, there are many folk and rock singer/songwriters that I can picture with their songs in Chime. If I had to pick only one, I think it would need to be something more left-field. I don’t want to say much more as it may reveal plans for the future but there is a lot of interesting music out there. Ultimately, I would like to push people’s concept of what a music game sounds like.

NF: 'Still Alive' is a fantastic addition to the Steam version. Is there any plan to add new stages with new songs to Chime, perhaps as DLC?

BG: Thanks, it was very generous of Valve to donate it and support OneBigGame in that way. It makes a smashing addition and is the first time we have done a full song with lyrics. It was great fun for us to let our Portal geekyness out (or rather it was fun reigning it in) to make it still Chime and so to reference that game but in the understated way that Chime has. Sadly, the Xbox LIVE Arcade and Steam versions do not support DLC. We, of course, want to expand the title with more songs, and this is something that we are discussing internally on how to remedy for those platforms. Making a level/track for Chime is not the same as it is for a karaoke or peripheral-based music game, which is something that we have plenty of experience with at Zoë. From both a creative and musical engineering stand point, it is much more involved and labour intensive; each track goes through a total deconstruction before being reborn anew as a Chime level.

NF: Speaking of OneBigGame, we think it's great that they are using games to contribute to charities. Was Chime always intended for release under that banner?

BG: Being their flagship title has been a great honour and with their second title Winta now out, we hope the project continues to raise money for children around the world. Chime existed in a prototype form before we started discussions with Martin at OneBigGame, but once the conversation with him started, it was clear that Chime was the obvious contender for us. It was talked about as a phone title and a PC title but then we settled on Xbox LIVE Arcade as the platform to break Chime as we all felt this gave the OneBigGame launch that extra bit of kick. It was this opportunity with OneBigGame that made Chime a reality and without it perhaps it would have always stayed a prototype.

NF: Chime was recently featured in one of Steam's "Treasure Hunt" promotions. Have you noticed any increase in interest since?

BG: [grin] This created a huge amount of Chime buzz not only on Steam but on our Facebook fan page as well. It was all a bit overwhelming. It was great to be part of that Steam promotion and it did significantly increase our user base. At a ridiculous price point of £1.00 ($1.25) it allowed many people just to dive in and give Chime a try. For a little self-published game like this without the marketing budgets to smother people this kind of action can only do us good. We hope new players are now hooked and will be willing to invest in future versions.

chime screen 2

NF: I'm sure you've been asked this before, but there seems to be a lot of co-op and competitive multiplayer potential in Chime. Are there any plans for this in the future?

BG: There certainly is and because of the ripe potential we actually offered the Chime code base to the University of Utrecht where developers on a course prototyped a prolific number of modes. These students who are formally called Stolen Couch showed these off on the web and have shown these modes at various game events too. It went to show that with a great core mechanic it was possible to iterate some other great game mode almost endlessly. Today, we have officially announced Chime Super Deluxe for Playstation Network. With this new title, you will see we have built upon their prototypes and implemented a versus and a co-op mode. Co-op is as much fun as you would imagine but four player versus is on another level; simply insane. Our balancing reviews for this mode always end up taking hours as they swiftly descend into hardcore, very competitive battles. In short we really do love the versus and can’t wait to see what the community thinks of it.

NF: Well, now that you've let the cat out of the bag on Chime Super Deluxe, what can you tell us about this new title?

BG: Chime Super Deluxe for Playstation Network has now been announced officially. This version we are seeing is the definitive version of Chime. It is not Chime 2 but an enhanced version of the first game originally made for OneBigGame on XBLA. We’ve not revealed the look of the game yet but I can tell you we think it is super and pretty deluxe and can’t wait to show off some screens and the trailer which are coming soon. The two biggest requests from Chime fans were more content and multiplayer and we have delivered on both. There are now 10 tracks and we are really excited about some of the new music. Not only have we been able to work with artists that we are huge fans of but this time around we have been working far more closely with them. For this new version we have been creating tracks specifically for Chime rather than retro fitting and remixing existing pieces which is an exciting new path for us to take.

NF: Great stuff Brynley. We here at NoobFeed thank you and Zoë Mode for taking time out to talk with us!

Stay tuned for more information on Chime Super Deluxe for PSN, Zoë Mode's freshly-announced follow up to Chime. In the meantime, head to their Facebook page.

 
Matt Buckley, NoobFeed

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